Once in an academic discussion in Jawaharlal Nehru University, a noted historian from the northeast stated that the Kukis and the Nagas are traditional enemy, this was resented by some young Naga scholars and make the historian to retract his statement. It is true that despite the history of the Naga-Kuki relationship was marked by mistrust and suspicion, the enmity between the Nagas and the Kukis are not older than the colonial period.
In the colonial writings, the first reference to the ‘Kuki’ was made in 1777 when this tribesmen attack the British subjects in Chittagong when Warren Hastings was the Governor General of Bengal. In Manipur Sir James Johnstone, the Political Agent of Manipur in 1877-1886 writes in his book Manipur and the Naga Hills that ‘Kukis’ were first heard in Manipur, between 1830 and 1840. The influx of Kukis in Manipur during the 19th century created a lot of ethnic tension and administrative problem for the state. The inter-ethnic relation between the Meitei-Naga and Kukis underwent change with the influx of Kukis in 19th century and the settlement of Kukis migrants in the hills of Manipur adjacent to the Naga villages. BC Allan in his celebrated book, Naga Hills and Manipur writes that “ by 1845 the British administration in Manipur faced problems when the Kukis began to come in great numbers and started to ‘drive away’ many of the older inhabitant.”
Kaka D. Iralu
In a recent interview by an Indian T.V. News Channel, I was asked the question: “Now with the NSCN IM- GOI talks having given up the issue of Naga integration under one political entity, will the Naga integration issue become just a dream for the future?” My immediate reply was: “Naga integration under one political entity is not a future dream but a living reality that has been going on for the past more than 2000 years.” Now, what I meant by what I said, are based on the following facts.
In the time of World War I (1914–18), the British Government recruited a number of labourers and porters from the Naga tribes. As part of the labor corps, around 2000 Nagas and many more from North east led by RS Ruichumhao were sent to France, where, alienated from the other British Indian troops, they developed a sense of unity. They agreed that after returning to their homeland, they will work towards unity and friendship among the various Naga tribes. These Nagas under RS Ruichumhao leadership come together with the British officials, formed the Naga Club in 1918. Mr. R.S. Ruichumhao was one of the few who can speak English and translate to fellow Naga about the ideas of the important of forming Naga Club. No doubt he is one of the visionary leaders who contribute the ideas of forming the Naga Club. However, His name was excluded in the signing of memorandum to Simon Commission because his interest has turn toward spreading of Gospel in Nagalim.